Pakistan received yet another public smack-down from the United States for its loose talk about using nuclear weapons against India, even as Islamabad’s efforts to seek UN and major power intervention in its spat with New Delhi ran aground in New York and Washington.
Obama administration officials on Friday very bluntly disparaged “some of the rhetoric from the Pakistani Government” about the possibility of using nukes, saying, “nuclear-capable states have a very clear responsibility to exercise restraint regarding nuclear weapons and missile capabilities.”
The put-down by State Department spokesman Mark Toner came in response to questions about Pakistan’s Minister Khwaja Asif’s remarks that his country was prepared to use nuclear weapons against India and they (the weapons) were not showpieces. The comments further accentuated Pakistan’s slack nuclear policy that has long invited international censure, and Toner wanted to put out “my message publicly that’s certainly our message directly to the Pakistani authorities.”
The remarks also followed concern expressed by Hillary Clinton at a private fund-raiser earlier this year that Pakistan’s tactical, battlefield nuclear weapons could be taken over by jihadis in a coup to give rise to a nuclear-armed suicide bomber.
In course of the US dressing down to its one-time ally, Toner also confirmed Washington’s stand that the assault on the Uri brigade headquarters in Kashmir was a part of the cross-border terrorism emanating from Pakistan.
“We have repeatedly and consistently expressed our concerns regarding the danger that cross-border terrorism poses for the region, and that certainly includes the recent attacks – terrorist attacks in Uri,” Toner said, urging Pakistan to take actions to “combat and delegitimize,” terrorist groups like Lashkar-e Tayyiba, Haqqani Network, as well as Jaish-e-Mohammad.
The groups are widely seen as state proxies, nurtured and nourished by weapons and funds from state coffers as part of its irregular warfare against India demonstrated in the Uri attack.
Pakistani denialists, including its cabinet ministers and high officials, have taken to alleging that India staged the Uri attack in a false flag operation to vilify Pakistan, or that it is the work of Kashmiri separatists. But the country’s long and well-established history and reputation as a terrorist swamp, part of a state-cultivated eco-system highlighted by its hosting of Osama bin Laden and dozens of other terrorists, makes this a hard sell in the global forum.
That became obvious when Pakistan’s attempt through the week to rouse the UN Security Council, the P-5 nations, and its purported allies to its troubles with India met with no visible success at the UN. Even its much-vaunted ally China has told Pakistan to sort out its problems with India peacefully and bilaterally.
Indian officials were pleased that there has been no adverse reaction to the “surgical strikes” across the LOC, something Pakistan itself helped defuse by claiming there were no such raids.
Pakistan also tied itself in knots by seeking UN intervention on the Kashmir issue even as it was hosting UN-designated terrorists, one of whom (Hafiz Saeed) was tweeting threats against India through the week.